As someone who haphazardly participates in local sprint triathlons with "finishing" as my goal, I am awed and inspired by athletic feats accomplished through magnificent displays of endurance, heart, and grace. This year's Tour de France, won for the third time in a row by the American Lance Armstrong, had moments so powerful and so moving that I recall the images over and over--convinced they carry a message about human endeavors far beyond the esoteric world of elite road cycling.

There were amazing scenes of sportsmanship, of joy, and of tragedy. A spent Jan Ullrich, the Olympic champion and former Tour winner, reaching out his hand for the hand of Armstrong as they crossed a stage finish line, a heartrending gracious acknowledgement of Armstrong's greatness. Team leader Armstrong choosing to lose precious seconds in the all-important team time trial to wait for a fallen teammate. The face of a young...

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